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Conference aimed at strengthening families
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Local pastors alarmed by the rising rates of drug use, gangs and poor school performance among the county's youth will be holding a family conference to address the crisis this Friday and Saturday at Eastside High School.

Called "The Critical Hour Family Conference" the event will be hosted by Pastor Carlton Mathis of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. Guest speakers for the event include retired NFL cornerback and Newton High School graduate Dale Carter and Pastor Eric Lee of Springfield Baptist Church.

According to Mathis the name for the conference came from his belief that the county's youth are in a spiritual crisis and unless something is done to give them direction and hope for their futures, an entire generation will be lost to the ravages of drugs, poverty and the nation's judicial system.

Mathis said the conference will address a variety of the issues facing today's young people such as pre-marital sex, drug awareness and gang violence.

"The goal of the conference is to begin to re-energize dialogue between parents and their children and to get parents actively involved in their kids activities to counteract these gang ties."

Calling the conference a benchmark for future progress, Mathis said he has been gratified to receive so much support from other pastors and churches in putting the conference together.

The conference will begin at 6 p.m., Friday Aug. 11 at the Eastside High School Auditorium with a testimonial from Dale Carter, followed by a praise and worship service. A general session led by Pastor Lee will be held at 7 p.m. The conference will resume at 11 a.m. Saturday with a morning glory service led by Mathis followed by breakaway sessions at 12:30 p.m.

There will also be representatives from the county and City of Covington's D.A.R.E. program and gang task force and the African-American Historical Association of Newton County who will address questions from conference attendees.

This event is free and open to the public.